How Sir Alan Sugar’s retweet lead to sweetheart deal between Digit and publisher Penguin

11 Oct 2012

A simple retweet by Sir Alan Sugar on the arrival of Digit Games Studios in Dublin led to the signing of an agreement between Digit and Penguin, which has acquired the world rights to publish books based on Digit’s soon-to-be-released game Kings of the Realm.

After spotting the tweet earlier this year, Penguin’s editorial director Shannon Cullen arranged to meet Digit’s co-founder David McGovern on a trip to Dublin, and discussions began.

Earlier this year, we reported that Digit Games Studios – a start-up headed by four seasoned games executives – raised US$1.25m and opted to locate a major independent games studio in Dublin after receiving the backing of Irish investors. The initial team is expected to grow rapidly as the games deployed expand on multiple platforms. The management team has held senior positions in EA, Atari, Jagex, PopCap Games and Jolt/GameStop. The team has contributed to major games, such as Tomb Raider, Star Trek Online, Colin McRea and Mirror’s Edge, to name a few.

Penguin has acquired the world rights for tie-in titles to Kings of the Realm. The first title will be released to support the game’s launch in 2013 and will contain the back story of the fallen realm, hints on strategy and will expand on details of the online world through an action-adventure fantasy novel.

Future titles will feature characters inspired by real players from the game and will be a close collaboration between Digit, Penguin and the online Kings of the Realm community.

Entering the realm of possibility

“Having seen the success of our younger interactive properties like Moshi Monsters, where the online world inspires content in our books, I am very excited about bringing this type of storytelling to a teenage and older crossover audience,” Cullen explained.

Kings of the Realm is a fantastic gaming experience that will appeal to fans of books ranging from The Hobbit to Game of Thrones, making this perfectly timed. To be able to involve the players of the game in future narratives is an exciting, innovative approach to contemporary storytelling, and we’re delighted to be working with such a forward-thinking and creative company as Digit,” she added.

Kings of the Realm is a free-to-play massively multiplayer real-time-strategy game. It will be launched on browsers, Facebook, tablets and smartphones in spring 2013.

“It’s great to be working with Penguin,” Digit CMO Martin Frain said.

“Our game world is a rich fantasy setting and this will be an ideal way for fans of the game to learn more about the history and characters in Kings of the Realm – or to get a taste of the intrigue and backstabbing they will enjoy in the game,” he added.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years